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July 20 — Drive to Ban Sex-Selective Abortion Gaining Momentum


20 July 2009 — Vol. 12/No. 21

On September 23, 2008, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona introduced a bill.  Its purpose seemed straightforward and its cause universal: put an end to the wholesale killing of little girls whose only crime was that they were little girls.  One might have thought that this bill would have garnered universal support, with everyone from radical feminists to conservative Christians clamoring for its passage.

The problem was that this legislation would protect unborn little girls.  

The Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2009 (PreNDA) seeks to criminalize the practice of sex-selective and race-selective abortions, which are growing more prevalent among certain communities in the United States.  At the time of this writing, the bill has 29 co-sponsors, including 27 Republicans and 2 Democrats (you can view the bill and its co-sponsors here).  

According to the National Academy of Sciences, some Asian-American groups have imported a preference for boys and are dramatically altering their demographic landscape by selectively eliminating baby girls from their population.  Add to this the problem of African-American abortions, where some statistics suggest that as many as half of African-American pregnancies are terminated, and the need for such a bill becomes self-evident.  

As Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R- NE) summed up the matter the day the bill was announced: “Abortion is the leading cause of death for African-American children.  Abortion clinics target the heart of urban minority communities, and more than twice as many black children are eliminated through abortion than are born.  Also, nearly 100 million unborn girls have been put to death simply because they are girls.  This bill addresses this profound injustice.”

Even The New York Times, not known for its conservative leanings, expressed concern in a June 15th article by Sam Roberts.  “A number of experts expressed surprise to see evidence that the preference for sons among Asian-Americans has been so significantly carried over to this country,” wrote Roberts.  “Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques.”

Regardless of one’s views on abortion, it would seem that legislators and thinkers on both sides of the issue could agree that no baby should die for reasons of race of sex.  

Not so.  The bill has all but stalled in an overwhelmingly liberal Congress.  As we in the pro-life movement have found, feminists refuse to support even the most reasonable and necessary restrictions on abortion.

Public opinion is another matter.  

For one, a 2006 Zogby International poll, found that 87% of the American public would like to see legislation banning sex-selective abortions.  This is not a simple majority, but an overwhelming one.  And it is especially surprising in a nation where more than 40% of the population calls itself “pro-choice.”  

Consider also that in 2007 the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women passed a resolution condemning sex-selective abortion.  The U.N. body, which rarely meets an abortion it doesn’t embrace, condemned the practice as violence against women, and “one of the most pervasive human rights abuses.”

Add to this the most recent Gallup poll on the abortion issue, which found that 51% of Americans are now “calling themselves ‘pro-life’ on the issue of abortion.  Only 42% call themselves “pro-choice.” According to Gallup, this is “the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.”  

Legislatively, the movement to ban sex-selective abortion is gaining momentum as well.  Illinois, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania already have statutes prohibiting sex-selection abortion, and the issue has been raised in the West Virginia and Montana legislatures as well.

The evidence is in: Americans don’t want sex-selection abortion.  They don’t even really want abortion, as even those who advocate it favor increasing restrictions.  By refusing to deal with the problem of sex-selective abortion, feminists and other left-leaning legislators are not only permitting the continuation of an unconscionable sexist practice, they are doing so in opposition to the views of the very Americans they claim to represent.  

Sex-selection abortion flies in the face of everything American values represent: liberty, equality, and justice for all.  If liberals and feminists really did care about women’s rights, and the cause of the downtrodden, they would oppose this practice, as does the majority of the American public.

Colin Mason is the Director of Media Production at Population Research Institute.

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